Imagine a union pension plan being used as a piggy bank by a politically connected insider. Still my beating heart, will wonders never cease.

Apparently that is what has happened in Baltimore.

The gist of the story is this. When Martin O’Malley was elected governor he immediately appointed Parris Glendening retread John Porcari as Secretary of Transportation apparently in an effort to win a bar bet or something. He almost immediately appointed Marcus L. Brown, a fifteen year veteran and deputy commissioner of the Baltimore PD as chief of the Maryland Transit Authority police. Not that there are any dots to be connected but Martin O’Malley hired Brown as deputy commissioner.

So far, so good. On paper Mr. Brown looks like as good a choice as any.

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Now Mr. Brown is on the horns of a dilemma. He has 17 years with the Baltimore PD and needs 20 to receive a full pension from the department. He can’t concurrently be chief of the MTA police and deputy commissioner of the BPD (though, now that I think of it that wouldn’t be a really bad arrangement). If he resigns he can draw a partial pension after he reaches age 50. He’s currently 42 and would like a full pension now.

Now comes the late commissioner Leonard D. Hamm to the rescue. In the story broken by WBAL’s Jayne Miller, it was revealed that Commissioner Hamm had informed the pension board that Brown had been “laid off.” This allowed Brown to receive 40% of his salary plus health benefits beginning immediately and lasting for his lifetime.

In fact, Brown began receiving the pension in March even though the pension board did not approve the deal until mid-June.

Now the Fraternal Order of Police has ordered their law firm to investigate and, if necessary, take action to stop this egregious violation of the pension rules.

Martin Watcher reveals a couple of additional aspects to this case that are more troubling. First, police pay raises are tied to the solvency of the pension fund. The $60K per year paid Brown takes directly from the pool of money which would fund pay raises. While the one pension alone makes little difference, apparently it has been common practice within the BPD to essentially pay bad cops to go away rather than taking administrative action.

For this the Fraternal Order of Police has only itself to blame and it makes their case for going after the misfeasance in this case much the weaker.

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